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In this week's Far Away Up Close, Liz O' Donnell meets Bono and the development economist Jeffrey Sachs.
Discussing his work in detail, Bono talks about the parts of his life that are not always very rock and roll. "It's pretty un-hip work," confesses Bono, particularly when you have to liaise with people across the political spectrum. "From the band's point of view it's a little difficult for them to swallow the kind of people that I feel I have to hang out with to further our agenda. But it was a good idea not to make the fight against poverty a left wing issue."
The controversial issue of government to government aid has often been divisive within the aid community. "It's a conundrum," agrees Bono. "Both government to government aid and NGOs are necessary. Without the support of governments and without making aid conditional we're not going to get anywhere. However there isn't always good governance in place so you have to improve the support through local NGOs or your own NGOs."
Bono also talks about the organisations he has founded, such as DATA (Debt AIDS Trade Africa), which lobbies governments at the highest level. While political savvy and a sound knowledge of the facts plays a large role in getting the message across, does Bono feel we need to be emotive as well? "You need to be emotive to get across the tragedy of watching someone die," he says, "simply because they can't get access to drugs. The look in their eye isn't anger, it isn't rage, it's acquiescence."
And what of the future? "We have the resources [to end extreme poverty]. We have the technology, we have the knowledge, if we have the will. Do we have the will?"
In New York, Liz travels through the busy city streets, meeting celebrity economist Jeffrey Sachs, who recently escorted Angelina Jolie across Africa.
Says Liz O'Donnell: "For anyone looking for a crash-course in economic development, this show will offer you a chance to gain an in-depth knowledge of the role Ireland plays on the international stage. Does aid work? It's a contentious topic and we have some of the world's leading authorities giving their honest and open views."
The Aid Debate
Does foreign aid work? Is corruption a problem? What about charity beginning at home? Is Irish Aid as accountable as it can be?
Questions like this remind us that aid is a complex issue. There will always be challenges. Experts in both the developed and developing world have strong views about the future of Africa and the value of international aid and, in the last episode of Far Away Up Close, Liz O'Donnell attempts to get some clear answers to some of these complex questions.
Bono and DATA
In 2002, Bono, Bobby Shriver and activists from the Jubilee Drop the Debt campaign joined together to create a new advocacy organization called DATA (debt, AIDS, trade, Africa). DATA's mission is to address the issues that most adversely affect the African continent. In 2002 and 2003, DATA worked with the US White House and Congress to secure a pledge of $10 billion over three years for poor countries fighting corruption and poverty, to be delivered through a new mechanism called the Millennium Challenge Account, and an additional $15 billion over five years to fight AIDS in Africa through treatment and prevention programs. Most recently, in 2007, DATA set up an office in Berlin to lead its work in Germany during the G8 year and beyond. For more information go to www.data.org.